Woody Rockwood – The Cottage in the forest
The only things that existed there were a variety of members belonging to the the plant life… tall trees, short trees, bushy trees, thorny trees, flowering trees, wild creepers, and plants of every conceivable stature.
A one and half hour drive through rocky hills and boulder paved pathways interlaced with overflowing streams, and dense vegetation, brought us to Rockwood, the green painted cottage situated deep inside the forests of the Shendurney wildlife sanctuary. This would be our home for the next 24 hours.
The journey to Rockwood was an experience in itself. We were accompanied by Maneesh, the ever alert forest guard, Achayan, a cook par excellence, and Murugan, his cheerful assistant, who got into the jeep from the base, with bags full of rice, vegetables and other provisions that would be required to feed us for a day. The eight of us complete with a huge suitcase, a rucksack, 4 duffel bags, and the provision filled sack were tossed around merrily in the rugged Mahindra Thar, the Jeep belonging to the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.
It was understood that the driver, Babu would drop us all off at the cottage and return to base with the vehicle, to come back the next day to pick us up. For a second, I wondered what would happen in case of an emergency, but these things take on a worrying magnitude only when you think of it… and to be frank, it hardly crossed our minds.
Rockwood cottage is built at a height of about 1270 mt above sea level. Maintained by the Shendurney Eco tourism department, this small cottage with just basic amenities did not have any electricity or telephone, nor was there any mobile range in the vicinity. The only things that existed there were a variety of members belonging to the the plant life… tall trees, short trees, bushy trees, thorny trees, flowering trees, wild creepers, and plants of every conceivable stature.
A narrow, iron stairway on the side of the cottage led to the first floor which consisted of a small bedroom with an attached bathroom, that was completely built with iron. A huge trench had been dug around the cottage and there was also an electric fence, which would thwart any wild animal attacks (or so we hoped). Fresh water was directed through a pipe straight from a small uphill stream, and got stored in an overhead tank in the cottage. A solar battery powered the electric fence and also gave feeble life to a couple of lights inside the cottage.
Maneesh enlightened us about the history of the place, and how it was developed during the time of the British. It seems the name ‘Shendurney’ came from the ‘Chenkurunji’ tree which were planted in that area during the British rule. These trees are seen in abundance in this forest. He rattled on the botanical names of a lot of trees seen in that vicinity, but all that I can remember now is my serene state of mind and the grandeur of the beautiful forest.
I felt truly blessed!